77 years ago, in a town that borders the sea, there was a neighborhood where tight knit families lived. They thrived on culture, on unity, they told stories about their struggles, they spoke with heavy accents as they were a mixing pot of vibrance, and even though they didn’t come from much the people were proud of what they had. Community was important to them and neighborly love was deeply engrained in their daily activities, waving, stopping to chat, and always looking out for one another. The children played hop scotch, maybe jumped rope, collecting marbles when they could and rolling tires when they found them. At that time the neighborhood was integrated, surprisingly since it was low income. The year is 1940, your mothers and fathers may have been born around the same time and the residents born in the walls of those red brick buildings would still be alive today to tell the story.
One fine day the people inside awoke to a clamor outside, white police men were going door to door and pinning notices outside. In an uproar the noise that was being made was mostly coming from the intruders who sought to make the commotion and draw out the residents from their peaceful homes inside. They forcibly made clear that this place, this home, was no longer for minorities. The police and government forced out all minorities and being that the area was mostly black, painted the chalkboard white. They exiled all minorities and gave them no reprieve but to never return to their homes, never to turn around, never to speak of this place as their home again: it belonged to white people and never ever was any different.
At the same time the government financed suburbs with federal requirement that no homes be sold to African Americans. From the bustling city where they lived, exiled from their neighborhoods, effectively erased, the government then federally financed that they would not allow these families to move to the suburbs or own land in the suburbs either. It was clear that they didn’t want any power to reach the hands of these African American citizens. Somehow, the people raised the issue that public housing still needed to be addressed. That if they were to be thrown out of their houses there had to be somewhere to go. So the government built them public housing. They built SEGREGATED and separate housing projects further emphasizing their stance that separate is not equal.
The areas that were designated for African Americans and minorities were undesirable the furthest from metro stations and furthest from the eye of the rich white politicians who were casting them away. They laughed as they cast down education bills that would delineate districts by neighborhood lines so that schools could remain segregated. They scoffed when elections arose because minority voices did not matter: they could not vote. The year is 1950 now, it won’t be 5 years until Brown v Board of Education and schools are desegregated but in this city desegregating schools didn’t help.
Today, White students test 6 grades ahead of African American and Latino students from Low Income families. In this city, today, because of the history of the government ensuring that the people have no power by law and governance- the children continue to suffer. This is New York City today. The town was Stuyvesant in New York city, the city of Dreams….Yes, there are no Cats in America and the streets are paved with cheese! Where racial lines have been drawn for ages now and painted over and over and over.
Stuyvesant Apartments today:
New York Times report on education disparities:
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